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Tri-Valley Hero: Lifetime Achievement

Tony Macchiano ... community volunteer extraordinaire

For a good, down-home barbecue, sign up for one of the next community fundraisers where Tony Macchiano is cooking. He's been at it for more than 45 years, delighting thousands with his mouth-watering steaks, ribs and chicken. His good work has also raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for Pleasanton outreach programs.

For his many years of service in Pleasanton, Macchiano, co-founder of Pleasanton Garbage Service and community volunteer extraordinaire, was presented with the Tri-Valley Heroes Award for Lifetime Achievement by Embarcadero Media's East Bay Division, which includes the Pleasanton Weekly and DanvilleSanRamon.com.

The presentation was made at an awards ceremony held earlier this fall at the DoubleTree by Hilton Pleasanton at the Club.

Over the years, Macchiano has parlayed his passion for Pleasanton and outdoor cooking into a record of community service that began in the late 1960s when the city had just 12,000 residents.

In the early days, using his cooking skills, he became the Pleasanton Lions Club's champion fundraiser, where he continues playing a key role in the club's annual crab feed that serves more than a thousand people at the Alameda County Fairgrounds.

He has a crew of about eight, called the Lickety Spits, who have worked on hundreds of charitable barbecues for organizations such as ValleyCare's Ryan Comer Health Library, as well as for families facing medical emergencies. For nearly 30 years, he's been barbecuing for the Pleasanton-Tulancingo Sister City Association, which he has also helped through the donation of medical supplies and sports equipment.

Macchiano served on the Alameda County Fair board of directors from 1998-2010 and is a board member of the 100 Club, which holds fundraising dinners he helps cook that provide funding to the spouses and families of law enforcement personnel killed in the line of duty.

At Pleasanton's Lions Wayside Park, he arranged building the bandstand, and he also helped renovate Amador Theater by hauling away truckloads of rubble.

Macchiano says he is most proud of founding GASIT, the George A. Spiliotopoulos Invitational Tournament, that for decades raised funds for scholarships to help local students attend college.

"When you interview some of these kids who are less fortunate than most in this town -- and there are a lot of them -- it makes you teary to hear how they want to better themselves," said Macchiano, who himself had to leave high school to start working at age 14.

"I have to give back," Macchiano said. "We made a living here, and this town has been good to us. You don't have to call a newspaper every time you do stuff. You just need to help people and the community to be a good place."

Macchiano has spent many nights and weekends contributing his talents and time to these kinds of events since he and his brother-in-law, Bob Molinaro, started the Pleasanton Garbage Co. in 1969.

In those days, they had one truck, four employees and a landfill operation along Vineyard Avenue near what is now Montevino. The company now has 120 employees, does much more than collect garbage and has made both men famous with their nationally renowned, model recycling plants. Even so, both are active in nonprofits and community events, although Macchiano is the recognized master chef in the partnership.

In their early days, you could see Macchiano on a tractor bulldozing garbage seven days a week. Molinaro would be on a truck, hauling away the garbage. They would work on the trucks themselves before there was a shop. Their kids remember picnicking at the landfill, so they could have dinner with dad. Even now, you can see the two filling in on a truck or working somewhere else out in the field.

Pleasanton Garbage Service has been through many challenges over the years.

Macchiano knew they would run out of landfill space and that they needed to provide a place for residential garbage. In 1976, the transfer station was built. It was the first one in Alameda County.

In 1984, an automated collection service was introduced to decrease job-related injuries as well as the time needed to serve the ever-growing population. 1991 saw the implementation of the Material Recovery Facility (MRF). It would serve the city of Pleasanton well in its efforts to achieve a greater than 70% diversion rate from the landfill.

Macchiano said today's challenges include further reduction of the waste stream through recycling and source reduction which, along with his continued community fundraising efforts, he's committed to achieve.

Hero FYI

* Tony Macchiano's years of community service in Pleasanton has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for outreach programs.

* As co-founder of Pleasanton Garbage Service, he has helped make Pleasanton a leader in waste management and recycling, while continuing his volunteer efforts.

* Using his cooking skills, he has played a key role in attracting donors to tasty fundraising barbecues.

* Macchiano says he is committed to ever-greater environmental achievements in Pleasanton.

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